Today, we are going to spend our time together talking about time. Scientists, physicists, mathematicians, all spend their lives working out time theories, time equations, or time behaviors. The rest of us spend our time being challenged, confined, and at times ruled by time. Today we are going to break this concept down just a bit and examine how time can impact and enhance our lives as believers. Specifically, we are going to look at two types of time; chronos and kairos, to help deepen our understanding of God and God's will for our lives.
Run Hard, Run Fast, Run Far
For any of your that have taken a Bible Study with me or have heard me talk about my call into the ministry, you know I did not go in expeditiously or enthusiastically. I ran. I ran for 10 years away from where I believe God was calling me to go. Part of that was fear, not believing that God had or could equip me for that calling. Part of that was pride. When I first got my call, after the initial anxiety, I was excited. I immediately began the process. I called the District Superintendent, got my mentor assignment, and met with my mentor for almost 8 months. Then our schedules, mine and my mentor's, began to conflict. I also began doing poorly in school. These difficulties bested me, and I quit. Not purposefully mind you, I just stopped calling, stopped pursing, and I just let the whole thing fade away.
My preference would have been to have gone straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to a full time appointment. Had I done that, then this would be the beginning of my thirteenth year in ministry, not my third. But there are many lessons for me to learn from this, and for us as a congregation to learn from this.
Time: What is it?
In Scripture there are two terms used to indicate time, chronos and kairos. Chronos is that linear time that we live under. It is where we get the word, chronology. In chronos time, we observe things like morning and night, winter and fall, early and late. It is all very linear in nature and one event cannot come before its due time. The clock is the guardian of chronos time because 2pm today cannot happen before 10am today. Within chronos time we understand deadlines, future and past events, and order.
Then we have kairos time, that time that reflects God's perfect will. That concept of time where events and circumstances only happen within God's divine choosing, not by the clock. The whole Gospel of John is a case study in the insistence of humanity to follow chronos time and Jesus' push to only act in kairos time. Story after story we read about people pushing Jesus to do this act, heal this person, perform this miracle, and they are always met with something along the line of, “now is not the time.” In John, chapter 2, Jesus is at a wedding party and they run out of wine. Mary, Jesus' mother, comes to him and explains what is going on, and Jesus' response is, “My time has not yet come.” In John 7:6-8, his disciples are urging him to go into town, to a festival, and to reveal who he is; make it certain to everyone that he is the Messiah. His response, “my time has not yet come” (NIV).
Time and time again in Jesus' early ministry, as he is healing people, he tells them, go and tell no one of what you have seen here. This is not because Jesus does not want God to receive praise and glory for these might acts done in God's name. But because it is not yet time for these things to be shared with the community at large.
But Why Kairos Time?
God's wisdom is such that he understands the perfect time, the proper time, and the only time, certain things need to happen.
Did you know that 400 years passed between the last prophet of the Old Testament and Jesus arriving on the scene? That is 400 years of silence. That is a lot of chronos time.
So why does Jesus come when he does? Why that moment? What made that moment so special? Because it is the first, perfect kairos moment in all of human history. It was the right time for Jesus to come, to perform all those miracles, do all that Jesus did in the name of his father; because it was there and then, that Jesus doing all of this, in this tiny town would spread all over the known world. This was the first perfect time that there was a common language among the people, that writing was widespread, that there was relative safety and peace because of the Roman Empire, that there was a great road system that enabled travel for people and stories. All of these circumstances worked together to make that era, that place, that community the perfect place for Jesus to come to.
Had God acted at any other time, this perfect coming together of culture, communication, and infrastructure, would not have been there. The message would have been lost, diluted, or even silenced. But God knows this and acted accordingly. There was never a chance that God would have missed acting in kairos time, his perfect time. This was the first possible moment when this news, and these miracles, would be able to travel farther than its surroundings. This was the first kairos moment for Christ to come, and God acted.
We struggle with this though. We live in a society of instant gratification, of “I want it now”, of instant downloads, of instant news. We do not understand that there is in fact a season for everything under heaven.
Take prayer for instance, we pray in chronos time. We want to God to answer our prayers now and in the way we want him to. We do not do well with waiting for God's time. And that can and does infuriate us because we do not understand it. It is so easy for us to live by, give into, and fall victim to chronos time. But we must be patient. We must remember that God has a plan, that God has all the information, and that God truly does know best.
I told you earlier, if I had gone straight through school, college, and seminary, I would be entering my thirteenth year in ministry, rather than my third. But had I done that, we would not be together today. That detour I took allowed me to learn many things, experience many things, become the person I am today. God did not waste that time for me, but redeemed it for good and he has shown me how it can help our cause today.
I believe that it is God's time for me to be here now. I believe that for what God has equipped me for, and what this church needs, are part of God's kairos time. This is the perfect time for you and me to be together. Had I come here 13 years ago, straight out of school, it may have been a disaster, working in chronos time. But by waiting, by seeking to follow God as God leads, I believe we have grown together, meshed together, to do a mighty thing for the Kingdom.
So I ask you, what is our kairos time? What is God calling us to do now, in this season? Be open to the Holy Spirit, be bold in your faith. Do not miss God's perfect timing. Because it is in that kairos world, that God is at work, the Spirit is active, and this Kingdom is doing amazing things!!